I'm Always There! to I'm There - Part 1

My story of cutting down the time I spent on the internet!
28 Jan 2021
cover Photo by Alex Ware on Unsplash

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are mere personal experiences and not expert advice/life lessons by any means!

In this day and age of "The Connected World", we all spend some decent amount of time on the internet, be it for browsing through the endless stream of photos on Instagram or watching your favorite cat videos on YouTube! But, have you ever wondered how much is too much?

I personally started asking that question myself when I had reached a point of being bored of scrolling through YouTube recommendations and not finding anything interesting to watch (if you know how their algorithm works, it's almost impossible not to find content of your liking in recommendations!). I could not figure out how to handle the boredom so I did what most of us do, switched to a different platform - Netflix!

Thankfully, I stumbled upon The Social Dilemma and watching it made me realise how effective the platforms were in keeping my eyeballs glued to the screen and question the amount of time I was spending on the internet. The answer was pretty shocking to say the least as I was spending more than an hour on Instagram alone!

In this part 1 of my series of how I transitioned from always being online and connected to getting online only when I need it, I outline what I believe are the main reasons for becoming hooked to social media and other popular platforms on the Internet.

The Reasons

  • Peer pressure/Necessity: I still remember those school days when Orkut was where the cool kids used hang out and I finally caved in and joined the platform due to peer pressure. I never ended up using it more than a couple of times though and this trend continued into my college days as well when most of my friends spent hours on Facebook and I did not even have a Facebook account to begin with! I was never a fan of social media and rarely used it until I entered grad school and being disconnected was not an option anymore. From all the fun events to exam schedules, every information was circulated on WhatsApp or some other social media and I was somewhat forced to use them. What started as a necessity easily spiralled out of control due to many factors I mention later.

  • Staying connected became difficult: As we all took off on our own paths after high school, being connected with friends offline started becoming difficult and social media served as an easy way out from this problem. Why would you ring up a person or go through the effort of physically meeting them when status updates or posts from them help you catch up on everything they have been up to all the while right? Also, as the friends circle grew bigger and education/career stresses became more, the mutually easy option of following each other on Facebook or Instagram won hands down.

  • Fear of missing out: I think this is hands down one of the biggest factors that made it very difficult for me to reduce using social media and the internet in general. What if I missed that viral video or that most happening trend and have nothing to say about it when my peers discussed about it? These are the kind of fears that sucked me into the black hole and whenever I made an effort to stop using my phone or social media for a couple of hours, I felt anxious and uncomfortable.

  • False sense of validation: As human beings, we are somewhat wired to be competitive and have an edge over our peers and even though this can be good at times and can help us achieve our goals, it can also make us crave for constant validation from our peers! Posting that picture of chilling on the beach in a fancy beach resort and getting a 1000 likes from friends might make us think that what we are doing is right but if we are putting in 16-20 hour work days to afford that travel and maintain that high life image amongst on social media and spoiling our health in the process, then the validation in the form of likes and comments is harming us a lot more than the instant happiness it provided. Many studies have shown that the validation we seek on social media does more harm than good!

  • Uncontrollable Factors: Ever since the whole world got locked down due to the pandemic, being locked into our houses and not being able to meet anyone or travel or go out for a nice dinner definitely makes us feel bored and social media and videos on the internet being easily accessible, become the easiest ways to kill time. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes the new normal and makes it extremely difficult to break out of it.

Now that we have looked at why I got sucked into the habit of spending hours on social media and the Internet, I will jot down how I got around to tackling these issues to reduce my time online drastically in part 2 of this series and provide some links to resources that helped me achieve this feat!